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Scotland v France, Six Nations 2022: Match Preview pt II – head to heads

Scotland v France
pic © Scottish Rugby Blog

As was the case in 2020, Gael Fickou is the only member of the visitors’ 23 who has experienced a French win at Murrayfield in the Six Nations (let’s draw a veil over the 2020 Autumn Nations Cup in Edinburgh…) If Scotland can pull off another triumph, then France will have to wait until 2024 for another attempt at a win in Edinburgh in this tournament – a full decade on from their last such victory.

Tale of the tape

BACKS
59   
Tries   41
95kg
   Average weight   92kg
273   
Total caps   185
138   
6N caps   90
27.9   
Average age   25.0

FORWARDS
904kg
   Pack weight   929kg
24   
Tries   9
226   
Total caps   182
102   
6N caps   100
27.9   
Average age   27.3

SUBSTITUTES
27   
Tries   9
144   Total caps   122
61   
6N caps   66
28.5   
Average age   26.1

Changes

3 changes to Scotland starting XV from last Test (v Wales)

  • 3 – Z Fagerson for Nel [+]
  • 6/4 – Darge for Gray with Skinner moving from 6 to 4 [-]
  • 8 – Bradbury for M Fagerson [-]

Head-to-Head

SCOTLAND
Stuart Hogg (c)
Darcy Graham
Chris Harris
Sione Tuipulotu
D van der Merwe
Finn Russell
Ali Price

Pierre Schoeman
Stuart McInally
Zander Fagerson
Sam Skinner
Grant Gilchrist
Rory Darge
Hamish Watson
Magnus Bradbury

George Turner
Oli Kebble
WP Nel
Jamie Hodgson
Nick Haining
Ben White
Blair Kinghorn
Mark Bennett


ADV Scotland
ADV France
ADV France
ADV Scotland
ADV Scotland
ADV Scotland
ADV France

ADV France
ADV France
ADV Scotland
ADV France
EVEN
ADV France
ADV Scotland
ADV France

ADV Scotland
EVEN
EVEN
ADV France
ADV France
ADV Scotland
ADV France
EVEN

FRANCE
Melvyn Jaminet
Damien Penaud
Gael Fickou
Jonathan Danty
Yoram Moefana
Romain Ntamack
Antoine Dupont

Cyrill Baille
Julien Marchand
Uini Atonio
Cameron Woki
Paul Willemse
Francois Cros
Anthony Jelonch
Gregory Alldritt

Peato Mauvaka
Jean-Baptiste Gros
Demba Bamba
Romain Taofifenua
Thibaud Flament
Maxime Lucu
Thomas Ramos
Dylan Cretin

Overall

Backs – advantage Scotland

As mentioned in Part 1 of the preview, Scotland probably need a big game from the boot of Ali Price if they are to win the tactical and territorial battle. The scrum half will start for the 20th time in the 21 Tests that Scotland have played since the last RWC.

The dark blues’ attack hasn’t fired too many shots so far in the Six Nations. Even a lineup containing 5 Lions is at the mercy of the quality of possession provided by their pack. So far there have been too many errors up front – in particular at mauls and the setup at lineouts, which should be providing just the sort of platform Finn Russell et al can thrive on.

Forwards – advantage France

This time last year Rory Darge had only played 18 minutes of pro rugby (for Edinburgh in a 50-10 defeat at Leinster in November 2020). 12 months on and the young flanker is one of Scottish rugby’s hottest properties. Stepping in for the injured Jamie Ritchie is a big test but Darge has adapted every time he’s been asked to step up a level.

Scotland’s locks will have their hands full containing the athleticism / power combination of their opposite numbers. While Gregor Townsend is missing 3 men who have accounted for over 60% of the second row starts he has handed out (Jonny Gray, Ben Toolis and Scott Cummings) the Sam Skinner and Grant Gilchrist pairing went pretty well at the Stade de France last year.

Subs – advantage France

Oli Kebble is the only returnee from the bench for the 2021 triumph in Paris – no Cherry, Berghan, Craig, Wilson, Steele, Hastings or Jones this time around. Elsewhere Mark Bennett is in line for his first cap since June 2018 and his first Six Nations’ appearance since March 2017.

Miscellany

– This will be the 13th time Stuart Hogg has played against France. In those 13 matches he has faced 8 different opponents at full back:

  • 2012 – Medard
  • 2013 – Huget
  • 2014 – Dulin
  • 2015 – Spedding
  • 2016 – Spedding
  • 2017 – Spedding
  • 2018 – Palis
  • 2019 – Medard
  • 2019 – Ramos
  • 2020 – Bouthier
  • 2020 – Ramos
  • 2021 – Dulin
  • 2022 – Jaminet

Paul Willemse played 5 times for South Africa at the under 20s World Championship in 2012 where one of his teammates was Oli Kebble (and another was Allan Dell who is also in Scotland’s wider Six Nations’ squad).

– There are 11 Edinburgh players in the matchday 23, equalling the capital club’s highest representation during the Townsend era. Glasgow’s record is 15 (v Samoa in November 2017) while for the Exiles it is 10 (v France in August 2019).

– On 27 February 2021, Sione Tuipulotu was a replacement for Yamaha Jubilo in a Top League match against Ricoh Black Rams in front of 1,856 fans at the Hanazono Rugby Stadium in Tokyo. On 26 February 2022 he will start for Scotland in a Six Nations fixture against France with a capacity crowd of 67,144 at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh. Life moves pretty fast…

194 Responses

  1. Your assessment of head-to-head advantages is spot on – except for Tuipolotu vs Danty, which is even in my book.

    1. Spot on? Really?

      It has Grant Gilchrist even with Paul Willemse. That’s a massive ADV France

      1. I mean….absolutely! Not sure what was going on with that one, but gave me a little chortle!

        The injuries are unfortunate, especially Ritchie and Fagerson – but the Hastings ommision is completely self-inflicted – he’s played really well against France (albeit once as a sub) both the last times we’ve played them and won. Makes no sense.

      2. I was close to even on the Tuipulotu v Danty call but, for me, Tuipulotu has been the form back in Scotland this season and has been flying for Glasgow whereas Danty has been relatively quiet (certainly in Europe – 1 clean break and 1 broken tackle in 3 full matches) so Sione just edges it despite being less experienced.

        Gilchrist v Willemse was a close call (between Even and Adv France) but (again for me) Gilchrist’s broader contribution across the game just evened it up. Willemse isn’t a carrier, he isn’t a significant lineout option. He’s in the team to be a high volume, high percentage tackler, smash rucks and add weight at the scrum. So far this Six Nations his tackle numbers are a good bit down on where he’d expect to be. Which leaves hitting rucks and scrummaging, both of which he does very well but Gilchrist contributes across the board.

      3. We are the worst nation for not seeing what world class resources we have at our fingertips. That goes for more than just rugby!

      4. Really interesting to hear your reasoning Kev, thanks for commenting. Hard to fault your logic that Gilchrist is a more rounded lock than Willemse, but everything Willemse can’t do, Woki can do in spades. So while the two of them individually may be even, the French unit feels like it’s considerably ahead of the Scottish one imo.

      5. Well I look forward to Gilco proving you right. He has had his fare sharer of knocks in here over the years . Come on Gilco !!

      6. @Angerine – that’s a fair point and something the direct head to heads don’t really capture. The French unit is a really nice blend to complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses. I do wonder how much of that was planned and how much has just come about from trying to squeeze in all their best players!

  2. Starting French team looks slightly less intimidating missing Villiere, Vakatawa & Ollivon. Still very good but a reminder that both their matches (and historics v the All Blacks) have been at home.

    Saying that, their bench looks a lot better than ours to me.

    I don’t know, think I might still be a bit deflated from Cardiff as having a hard time getting too excited for this one.

    Excellent article, as always, Kevin.

    1. Cool, thanks for the logic outline on Willemse Kevin, interesting. It’s less about not seeing good world class talent in our team, and maybe overestimating others based on a sense of collective excellence from the French. Fair points all round.

  3. Really not sure how this is going to go. If we can keep down the penalties and keep everyone on the pitch then we should be in the game. Would be really interested to see a stat of minutes played versus penalties conceded for each of our players at the end of the championship.

    1. After 2 rounds our biggest culprits are George Turner and Zander Fagerson: Each has given away 3 penalties in the 91 minutes they have each been on the pitch. Jamie Richie is as bad as he gave away 2 penalties in the 60 minutes he’s played.
      Every single player who has played both full games has given away at least one penalty. Ali Price has played the most minutes (115) without being penalised.

      1. Indeed. Pens have killed us so far. If we concede the same number against France, who are entirely set up to catch and drive us to oblivion, then pens will kill us, bury us in a shallow grave and dance on us singing “Yes Sir, I can Boogie.”

      2. Ive a bit of sympathy with the front row if the scrum is getting over powered. Its the crazy ones where referee has told them to do something and they havent responded that gets me.

      3. Hard to deny that our penalty count is far too high; but some of them are ‘cute’ penalties. On the other hand, we don’t seem to be awarded some ‘stonewallers’. We seem to be on the wrong end of decisions more often than we should be, and not too hot at working on the edge of the rules. The ref’s attitude to France’s holding up the lineout catcher was strange. If he threatened to penalise them if they did it again, it surely implies that previous offences should have been penalised? For a long time now, I’ve felt that we were being outsmarted around the fringes of the laws of the game. Every season there are new wheezes, but none thought up and implemented by us! Ach, I’m just disappointed!

  4. Good luck to the Scottish womens team today, this is a really big opportunity for the womens game in Scotland. Great to see it’s on Alba

  5. I think we can win…but we just haven’t done anything thus far to back up that thought.
    We don’t look balanced enough in key areas of the team …let alone consistent.
    The only consistency I expect from us is to win v France ..struggle and scrape a win v Italy…then get absolutely torn a new one v Ireland.
    Progress would be to win all three imo.

  6. Watson out with covid, Haining starting at 6, Christie to bench.

    That’s quite a blow, let’s hope Haining plays like last year and Christie brings all sorts of youthful fearlessness.

    1. Mush’s tackling stats are pretty amazing so even though not at his pin-balling best so far this tournament, a worrying loss. Just hope Darge proves his clone status and is not intimidated by the big French pack. Quick ball up front and decent weather for handling skills plus a better disciplinary effort could see us pull off a win; just hope we have the physicality and mobility in the pack to make it count

  7. Hogg!!! Urgh…yet again.. how many brain farts does it take for him?
    Many go on about how he’ll be missed when he hangs the boots… I won’t…game changing mistake yet again!
    You could see in the coach box how livid they were with him…dropped from lions for a reason.

    1. It was not the nicest pass from Harris, Hogg was absolutely stretched reaching for that.

      A shame cause Harris did great work supporting Duhans break.

      Darge has been excellent, Graham also very impressive, Duhan, Bradbury and Haining have brought some much needed go forward.

      I think the debate can be put to bed that Price is a better scrumhalf than Dupont… levels.

    2. I’ve lost count on the number of times Hogg drops it over the line. He’s a quality player under too much pressure – look at the way he berates himself every mistake. He should never ever be captain, aside from other points he’s at 15 and it sure doesn’t help his game.

  8. We just can’t keep possession, how many line outs do we win and then screw up next phase?! So frustrating. Some odd referring decisions – high tackle on Ali price so taking that player out of equation, Price would probably have scored, Gilchrist penalized for taking out in the air but then ref says French jumper needs to be lowered quicker, Skinner taken out dangerously in the air but no card. But then we are shooting ourselves in the foot so many times we probably couldn’t walk over the line again.

  9. Not even a bonus point. We are in line to finish 5th with two wins assuming we beat Italy that is.

  10. Townsend out. He’s clueless. Russell off pls.

    So many wrong decisions so many times. So many players burned.

    1. He won’t… he is too stubborn. He’ll need to be let go… which he should be.. if we want to have any chance at the RWC. He has done some good things but ultimately failed to achieve the squads potential.

  11. Quickly from 6 N challengers after one narrow win v England to……..can we beat Italy to avoid being last? Sigh… we’ll play 4 matches at the World Cup… 2 wins 2 losses ..fly home

    Ritchie should be squad captain going forward. Hogg and Russell dropped. GT staying until the World Cup now seems a risk.
    Not playing well enough or coaching well enough to be sure of their postions

    Positive is that Darge is a fantastic player at this level… superior to Watson imo..

  12. Good to see Bennett brining some impetus in the 13 channel. I hope he’s played himself into the starting jersey.

    Kinghorn is showing why not picking Hastings was a massive mistake.

    France are playing well but so many stupid, stupid mistakes by us are helping them on their way. Similar to the wales game.

  13. If he goes now maybe maybe there’s a underdog’s chance of a non miserable World cup. Otherwise it’s the same old sh*te. Consistently lost games should win, consistently fallen apart under pressure. One disastrous World Cup. Fallen out with the best player, others won’t even play in the team with him. He’s made Hogg captain who just needs to focus on his own game. Time to go, this is a home game.

  14. As always with Scotland it’s the hope that kills you.I thought France would win easily so was in a calm frame of mind at the start but near half time I’m thinking,”we are playing well we’ve got a chance” I’m genuinely getting excited, 5 minutes of play later we’re done up like a kipper
    Ps
    Surely you have to have your hands on the ball for more than a fraction of a second in the jackaling position to get the penalty,refs are blowing immediately and spoiling the game.

  15. It’s all gone a bit stale.
    I think if you don’t bring just a little something new to the table every season you get worked out.

    France were very good.

  16. Darge and Bennett were bright sparks in an otherwise dark day for Scotland. Both must start against Italy.
    Kinghorn came on and looked like he’d played for 200 minutes! So lackadaisical. Why he’s in the squad is beyond me and why he came on when we were chasing the game is even more bizarre. Haining and Bradbury were largely going backwards and certainly didn’t help with the breakdown. Skinner and Gilchrist were ok but outplayed by a massive French pack.
    Real lack of creativity and far too many brain farts for what should be a settled and experienced side.

  17. Clownsend has taken us back to the headless chicken era and Russell is more interested in his mobile phone than knuckling down to what he’s meant to do

    1. Totally agree, Russell only plays when he fancies it and he obviously doesn’t like playing for Townsend.

  18. R Gray, Russell, Hastings, Jones, Bennett, Dunbar, Taylor, Hardie, Watson, Cummings, Maitland, G Horne. Man manger extraordinaire. No doubt there are others I’ve missed.

  19. Ever since the spat with GT ..Russell has looked like he doesn’t enjoy playing for Scotland.
    GT has stubbornly tinkered with selections since the last atrocious RWC performances …and here we are approaching the next one not knowing what our best 23 is and even at least what the correct balance is for our squad . If we continue with him as head coach it’s like GT persisting with the Kinghorn experiment….

  20. Lot of people on here who really need to get into curling. Sorry lads, you lack the mental toughness to be Scottish rugby fans.

    Damn, France looked good. That is a young team realising just how good they could be. A gruesome privelege to watch.

    Second best in every facet – although a close second in a few of them. Darge a joy to watch, meaning Graham has to settle for second best player this week. Moments which show our quality.

    It got away from us in the second half. We missed Harris’s calming influence in defence. Kinghorn had some good moments, but all his good moments were from what you might call full back play. Hastings’s omission looking hard to justify.

    But Toonie out? After his first 6N loss by more than a score in 3 years? Amazing to me how quickly people think they’re owed 6N wins. We’re still a small rugby nation, we’re still punching above our weight. Townsend is, statistically, the best caoach we’ve ever had. Suck it up people.

    1. “We missed Harris’s calming influence in defence” What are you on about? With Harris on the field for 40 minutes we conceded 19 points, with Bennett on for 40 minutes we conceded 17.

      Basically made no difference losing him.

      1. Yeah, naw.

        The first two tries we’re a) complete worldies and b) low-percentage plays. The second half tries involved running in a straight line.

        Not that Bennett played badly, he brought pace and energy, totally lush to see him back. But as a group, we missed Harris.

      2. Why did Harris throw the long pass to Hogg it was a mile in front of Hogg , all he had to do was pass it to Al Price an easy pass which would have drawn in the French defenders.

    2. People’s frustrations come because they know this team can do so much better but we’ve just struggled to get out of 3rd gear for some time now. This is a golden generation for Scotland with some incredibly gifted and creative players yet we play with no creativity and seem to rely on our improved defence to win games. Unfortunately I don’t see us breaking into the top half of the 6 nations (let alone winning) or getting out a World Cup pool with Toony at the helm. Time to throw cash at a proven coach.

      1. I really do get the frustration. I do. We’ve been starved of success for so long, and hope, as always, is a killer.

        But do you honestly, honestly believe that Townsend has more talent at his disposal than Galthie? Or Farrell, or Jones for that matter?

        And if you don’t, would that not mean that Townsend has overachieved in the past couple of years?

        It was a bad loss against a good team. It’s happened at some point in the last few years, to every team in the tournament.

      2. Fair point. I don’t believe Scotland have significantly better players than France and Ireland or for that matter England but we had better players on the park 2 weeks ago against Wales and lost. Continuing on the welsh theme do you think they had better players than the other teams during Gatlands era. No they didn’t, they had good players but their whole was better than the sun of their parts. Unfortunately our whole is less than the sum of our parts. We need a new coach and have done since the WC fiasco.

    3. And so he should be , this is a great set of players , if he had the charisma to make a team of them , it would be brilliant.

      1. How the last World Cup embarrassment and regularly at the lower half of the 6N could be classed as overachieving is just laughable.
        GT has a comparatively good win % …not saying much since we hired an array of atrocious coaches ..but as someone else mentioned… it sure doesn’t feel like it. Winning summer tour matches and autumn series matches doesn’t amount to success…just a nice warm ‘n’ fuzzy..as Hogg states almost after every loss… we are getting closer to that 80 minute complete performance!…Yay!! In almost every important statement match we get mullered.
        Clear to most we have the best collection of players we have had in the pro era and we are making a pigs ear of it…we’ll head out of this fortunate era with nothing to show for it at this rate.

    4. France were on the back foot until Hogg’s butchered ‘try’… it completely changed the momentum. Our body language changed … France capitalized. Mental fragility also, and more importantly, applies to the players too . France were good… but there were real chances to win that match and we didn’t look organized and decisive enough to take advantage.

    5. Been sucking it up for years, making excuses that we are punching above our weight does us no favours. You live or die by your top team.

    6. His record in tournaments is very poor. He produces teams incapable of competing or any fluency – national team or Lions. He wins and loses at the wrong time regardless of the pc, the epitome of flattering to deceive. His man management is abysmal and he still doesn’t know his best team. Worse yet players go backwards under him and he doesn’t back them (Watson for the Lions and then not playing against SA is one under the radar insult that has clearly had an impact among many other more public problems). Every person reading this has been perplexed at his decisions over the years. Roll the dice on a Danny Wilson now. Can’t do any worse.

      Oh and is the implication here Scottish fans should be alright with being served up with sh*t.

      1. Rocket Science seriously – we have 2 professional teams and 6 semi pro.
        We have about 7 (private) schools in Edinburgh where the game is played to a really high standard and about 20 others (also mostly private) where it’s played to a so-so standard. It’s only in the borders (population about 100k) where it’s an everyman game and even Italy has about 3x our player base.
        Despite all that we’ve beaten France, who have hundreds of professional players, 65m people and the entire South of the country where it’s a major sporting interest 5x since 2016.

        I think it’s fair to say we punch above our weight.
        Maybe one day we’ll win a championship. Probably when it’s not expected, there’s no pressure and all the fans stop flaking out!

      2. There’s a fair amount of Scottish diaspora too. Can only put XV on the pitch, plenty of Scottish qualified playing at the highest level to do that and look better than other teams.

    7. Also: saying the game got game got away in second half doesn’t cut it. That’s fine for Wales away when you’re a man down. But to be so rudderless and leaderless and clueless – unable to regroup or fight at Murrayfield with this group of players. Inexcusable and there’s something rotten.

      If Finn won’t play for him, thats that – and really should have been that after the last World Cup or the falling out.

    8. On the contrary… I’d say it’s the ‘we’re but a wee team’ that makes it easy to go to that acceptable loss mentality. Just creates a comfy and safe cycle of underachieving. You can keep your ‘suck it up’ thanks!

      1. I mean, you can feel however you want about it. It’s just a fact. We have as many professional teams as France have professional leagues.

        As for this “acceptable loss mentality” – look back through the blog. I’ve only ever seen the reverse. Every time we’ve built a bit of momentum, where things have been looking good, we’ve instantly demanded that this has to happen now, that the next game is must-win, that the players won’t be taken seriously unless they do it NOW.

        And every time (England 2017, Wales 2018, France 2019) , that has been when we’ve played our worst.

        Do you honestly look at Stuart Hogg playing for Scotland, and think “safe and comfortable”.? He always looks like he’s carrying the world on his shoulders, like if he messes this up, he’s done. And we saw where that got him today.

        We take the mick out of Wales media. And with good reason. But have you ever watched a Welsh broadcast? They’re always talking about their player as if they’re better than they are. And guess what? The results they get are better than you’d expect from the talent in their team.

        We’re all sad right now. And angry, and frustrated, and all that other stuff that sport makes us feel. And we see the talent, talent that we haven’t seen in the professional era, and we’re desperate to see it rewarded. I just feel like we’ve tried throwing the toys out the pram at every loss, we’ve tried it forever. Why don’t we try something else?

        Right, let’s get drunk.

      2. I like this post Angerine.
        Yes there is a tradition of very high expectations and them extremely harsh criticism.

        Imo Wales have their ‘hwyl’ – the supporters understand they are part of the team. You are playing the entire country.

        On that note some supporters should maybe ask if they would say some of the things they do if they were the players’ teammates?

        It’s really bad for team spirit. The team has plenty of harsh critics outside Scotland, its own fans should be on its side no matter what.

    9. Comments like this anger me and I am going to bite. ‘Townsend is, statistically, the best coach we’ve ever had’. So why does it not feel like it : and what statistics? Try exists from World cups .

      In truth Cotter did a good job and I wonder where we might be if he stayed on. You will say no better , I say no better or no worse. But we are both missing the point.

      What benefit have we gained by ousting Cotter and appointing Townsend.

      To his credit he has found a suite of very competent players, but that is not what makes a team. He finds them to experiment and tinker. Once we get the initial impact from a new man , they tail off, now that tells me something!

      1. Wait until the end of the championship before all the negative comments. Funny how these types of comments werent mentioned at the end of last season.

      2. Tam : What makes you think I will feel any different at the end of the championship!

        What is ‘funny’ , is that you believe no one was ‘mentioning’ these opinions at the end of last championship ! I can tell you now they were.

        What was so special about the 6N 2021 ? We finished 4th, which is exactly where we finished in Cotters last season.

        What has changed ? There is no shame in disapointed and passionate fans expressing a ‘Negative’ comment , especially when they can back it up, at any time.

      3. “Bite”, implies I was fishing, and I’m not. Albeit in the cold light of day “suck it up” was probably poorly chosen.

        It feels like on here you either have to act like Toonie is the greatest coach of all time, or he’s the reincarnation of Matt Williams, when the truth is he’s a decent international-level coach. But yes, if you look at the percentage of games he has won as the Scotland manager, he’s better than McGeechan, Telfer or Cotter.

        And you’re romanticising the Cotter years. We had at least one defeat of the scale of yesterday every year under Cotter, and they didn’t have to play as well as France did yesterday to achieve it. And sure, we all remember the 2015 world cup, but it’s easy to forget that we were moments away from going out in the groups to a very limited Samoa team.

        Not that I’m saying Cotter did a bad job. I wasn’t keen on us sacking him at the time either. But again, if you think that there’s some golden era of Scottish rugby that Townsend is keeping us from, you haven’t been paying attention.

      4. Angerine: I think you are missing the point: Did we really get rid of Cotter to gain nothing? No and that is what hurts. What was the benefit.

        Cotter had a few howlers , (and so has Townsend) but the players of this side are of a much higher standard, just look at how much they are commanding at club level and where they are playing. Most of the legacy players are now experienced.

        I think accusing me of romanticising Cotter is disappointing and I assure you, that is way to shallow for me. My point is Townsend has not actually pushed us on. Basically it does not feel like an improvement despite the resources available. So what was the point of appointing him ! It feels like some of the players are not switched on and we are mixed.

        Just my opinion and I would be happier if someone would convince me otherwise but I don’t see an argument in here that will move me.

  21. I rarely have a go at the ref but his mistakes gave the game to France.
    How is a high tackle which prevented a try not a penalty try and yellow card? How is a player who doesn’t even go for the ball but takes a man out in the head not carded? Why is a man lying on the wrong side not penalised, just cos the scrum half is “milking it”?
    Obviously if Hogg had taken that pass it would have been different but there is no way France should have had those two tries either side of half time. Instead of being 13-12 up at 42 minutes we were 26-10 down and playing catch up.
    Missed Watson, Gray and Ritchie at the breakdown and tackling.

    1. Yep thought the ref had a poor game. Lots of strange calls.
      Taking the player out looked a card as it happened let alone the delayed debate on it…too many hasty or incorrect calls to mention them all.
      France were the better team but our mistakes flattered them. I’m not convinced they would beat an SA or NZ when it really matters.

      We missed Ritchie and a proper captain. Didn’t feel Watson and Gray were missed at all. Watsons form has dipped…Darge played a great 1st full game and looks our best 7.. Gray is a tackle stat with no go forward.

    2. Not to mention the holding the player up in the line, get a penalty and told to bring hom yo ground quicker next time. Absolutely bizarre.

  22. Accurate comments Angerine, but i think we weren’t 2nd best at every facet until the heads went down after the sucker punch 5 minutes into the second half, after the first one 5 minutes before the end of the first half. It is hard to come back from that.
    Maybe i have blue tinted glasses on but yet again we seemed to be on the wrong end of the refs decisions. Ali Price was making it clear to the ref that Woki was getting in the way , ref waves play on and tells us to get on with it. We got pinged repeatedly in wales 2 weeks ago for behaving exactly like Woki, I’d be pissed off too as a player.
    Russel was nothing special, Kinghorn not the answer though.
    Turner had his one great season 2 years ago and is now just a penalty machine that can’t throw darts.
    We did miss Harris’s defensive organisation for those scores in the second but his pass to Hogg was poor and he never offered any of the threat that Bennet did with ball in hand.
    I’m not sure what Tuipulotu offers, secure with ball in hand but rarely breaks the defensive line or runs the attacking lines that Johnson does.
    Darcy Graham was immense in the first half, darge , immense all game.

    1. Must admit Ive the same feeling. I like Tuipolotu but I dont think hes an upgrade on Johnson and Russell seems to have a better understanding with Johnson.

      Not sure what Harris was thinking with the long pass to Hogg. If its a 4 on 1 you dont throw a long pass to the fourth man. Draw the man, short pass to Price and then if you have to let him pass short to Hogg. Its a return to white line fever of a few years ago.

      France played very well. No-one has been able to mess with our defence like that for years and we seem to be very vulnerable now off turnover ball.

      Toony must know if he loses to Italy the journey is over. The problem is we seem to be somewhat less than the sum of the parts and that comes down to the management and the coach at the end of the day.

      1. 100% agree with this – especially the less than the sum of our parts comment.

        There’s a lot of people on here screaming about Hogg – we’ve genuinely got the best player in the world in his position and we decide to make him the scapegoat. Madness. I suspect a few hysterical football fans have discovered this board…

        On balance, I think Hogg probably should have got the pass – but that assumes he thought he was about to receive and stretched fully for it. It wasn’t a gimme by any stretch. Harris should have played it along the line for a run in. That was the play. Schoolboy stuff. White line fever as you say Big Al.

        For individual moments of madness. Finn’s decision-making was off again as he tried to force the game. We missed Hastings as a proper alternative at 10 once it was clear Finn wasn’t having much joy. We also saw the two Duhan’s – offensively brilliant, but defensively very leaky.

        The last France try was conceded against a team that had given up. The ref did us no favours once again – but if that starts happening more often than not, you have to start questioning yourself, and coaches ability to understand how games are being refereed, and not the refs themselves.

        For what its worth, I thought we had some success when the game was unstructured – I know that goes against conventional logic, but that’s when our attack looked at its best.

        Oh, and France really are excellent.

  23. So much focus on Townsend, but I don’t think that’s where the concerns should be placed. We showed that this was a winnable game for 15 minutes in the first half, even with our first choice pack virtually all missing. We need to play with that kind of intensity throughout the game though rather than in spells. As far as I’m concerned that’s on the players and, unfortunately, on the ref.

    There were two things on show today that you really can’t have if you’re going to win a Six Nations match.

    The first is failing to execute against big opportunities. There were two clear try scoring chances that we didn’t take in that first half spell. The second one was hard to believe as there were so many ways to score from that opportunity. Hogg called for the past and has to take all of the blame because of that. He’s been a great player for us, but that was a terrible call and terrible execution. Our line our drives on their 22 in the second half were pathetic too. Ultimately we lose because we fail to make the most of our chances.

    The second thing you can’t have is a referee who favours the other side. While the Hogg miss was a 14 point swing, the first try in the second half was a 10 point swing. Offside is given at the breakdown for any of a number of reasons – Not showing effort to roll away, being clearly over the offside line and slowing play as a result, touching the ball in an offside position. All three of these were as clear as day from Woki in that incident. I couldn’t believe that wasn’t given. Their next try came after Woki went clearly off his feet right in front of the ref and then he pinged us for holding on (like he did throughout the 2nd half at the slightest opportunity). He needed a video ref to tell him there was anything wrong with Jaminet’s mid air assault on Gilchrist and then didn’t even consider whether it merited a card. He was harsh on us throughout, but those two decisions against us were so blatant it actually makes me question the integrity of the officials.

    1. Yes to all this. Why this problem with the ref? Is it that Hogg is not good with refs? Or is he too far from the play to exert an influence? Is there an in-built tendency of refs to favour the favourites? I was astonished when he warned the french for holding the jumper up to an absurd degree and still gave them the penalty? What happened to “don’t milk it” in that play?

      1. Exactly – surely France had the first infringement there and he shouldn’t be penalizing the second thing he sees? It’s hardly surprising that Gilchrist’s timing is off if they’re illegally extending the time in the air.

      2. Not that. – the reffing community have it in their heads we are sh*t and a poor spoiling team , and ref us accordingly – we don’t get breaks because generally refs don’t think we are worthy. This isn’t a cheat call , it’s an unconscious bias that pervades the reffing community and has done for years .
        Do We need a Rassie style rant after this performance from the ref ?
        France are good enough not to need a 16th man , at 15 vs 15 I’m still not sure we would win.

    2. France should have been playing with 12 men for 10 mins in the latter stages of the first half.

      Willemse clears out Darge from a ruck with shoulder to the head at 18:22 (red).

      Jaminet doesn’t even get a yellow when it is (a) tackle in the air, (b) strikes Skinner in the face and (c) reckless (25:21, red).

      Baille’s high shot on Price stops a probable try at 27:13. (PT and yellow card).

      None of these were dealt with correctly. The law was wrongly applied by the officials in respect of two of them.

      Quite clear that Dickson was well out of his depth from early on.

      And don’t get me started on the line out shenanigans.

    3. I have watched that pass from Harris a number of times now. It was close to perfect and given how fast he was running and how far the ball travelled that is pretty good.

      It was marginally in front of Hogg but should have been gathered comfortably.

      But the most important point is that Captain Hogg called the wrong play which put Harris in a ridiculous position. I have no doubt Harris would have elected to pass to Price if left to his own devices (and let’s not forget about the superb inside line he cut to take the ball from VDM in the first place).

      And, yes, we are always on the wrong side of referees. Even in the Calcutta Cup, it was only the referee that kept England in the game up to the point where he had to choose between giving a penalty try or being dropped from the international circuit.

      Hogg has been an absolute disaster as captain for himself and, much more importantly, the team.

      1. Hogg is not and will never be captain material, he is best as a solo contributor: We will be a different side when he finally goes but it wont be anytime soon. Welcome to the dark side Garry, we are growing by the year.

      2. The more I’ve watched it the worse it gets, yes it’s a great support line, however he is still in loads of space when he passes, could have easily ran a few more metres. Then it’s a choice of price, who would most likely have passed on to Hogg, or to the shoe, who would have most likely bulldozed through the french defender, ntamack I think it was. Who knows Harris may have even been able to run it in with a well timed dummy.

  24. Maybe the team peaked last season and has gone a bit stale.
    I’m still not convinced we’ve managed to temper Harris’s defensive attributes with some other infield attacking threats. Price seems to have become a box kicking scrum half when he used to vary his game.

    Great to see Bennett back. He could offer that kind of attack but do we lose Harris’s defence?

    Has to be said France were exceptional and also rode their luck well.

    They’ve been building to this. They let Ireland back into the game last week after pasting them for 50 minutes but never looked like losing, maybe they’ve moved ahead of the pack?
    Thrashing the All Blacks, Ireland and now us suggests maybe they have?

    1. Nah that was p’ss poor performance from Scotland. Apart from today those France games were at home – says little about their metal as were not tested. For the brief period momentum went against them before the break they were as ready to implode as ever. Ntmack, Jaminet and some others didn’t look great.

    2. Ireland away lost by 6 pts only and if they had kicked to the corner 7 mins from the end instead of taking the points the result may have been different.Either way Scotland have another chance in Dublin

      1. I watched the France v Ireland game and I thought France pasted them then started sticking the ball up their jumper which let Ireland back in. Then they nearly had a massive wobble but managed to steady the ship and say ‘not this time’.

        If they’d stuck to what they were doing in the 1st half they would’ve been out of sight.

  25. Personally I didn’t think it was ‘Hogg’s butchered try’. Harris threw a long pass way too early. He had space ahead of him and could have kept running, drawn in a French player and then played a shorter and easier pass for the score.

    1. Agree, not sure why Harris went for such a high risk pass. Even if Hogg had caught it, could well have stumbled and no try. Just needed the right decision; unfortunately, not something we seem to do under pressure

      1. I thought the same at first but on reply it’s clear that Hogg made the call for him to make that pass. He still should have known better than to try it and it was a really weak effort , but for me Hogg is to blame for asking for it when there were others better placed.

      2. Hogg had a Jock Bok outside him, and he is fast of foot and slight of hand for a prop. Hogg asked for it, did he ! No ‘I’ in Team.

  26. The team does not seem to be on the same wavelength, i’d get the whole team out on the piss the week before Italy.

    Rest/bench some of the senior players (Hogg/Harris/Duhan/Russell/Skinner) who have played a lot having to go back to club on off-weeks.

    My team for Italy

    Oli Smith – Darcy Graham – Mark Bennett – Sione Tuipolotu – Kyle Steyn – Blair Kinghorn – Ben Vellacott – Matt Fagerson – Hamish Watson – Rory Darge – Grant Gilchrist (C) – Scott Cummings – Zander Fagerson – Ewan Ashman – Pierre Schoeman

    Stuart Hogg – Adam Hastings – Ali Price – Josh Bayliss – Sam Skinner – Simon Berghan – Oli Kebble – George Turner

    I do think this team still gives appropriate respect to Italy, and the players selected are all in form.

    If Kinghorn is going to be a realistic 10 option going forward he should have no issue managing a game against Italy.

    1. Whatever team is selected it better be a winning one….an Italy loss surely would be the end for GT. Confidence looked shot at the end of the match today.

    2. Jesus – Kinghorn can’t manage a game against a 14-man Cardiff Blues when his team are several scores in front.

      If Blair wants to use his as a 10 at Edinburgh because he doesn’t fancy his other options that is one thing. But continuing this ridiculous experiment at international level is beyond farcical.

  27. After all the negativity lets say well done to Rory Darge. A handful of turnovers won and the big French boys were trying really hard to get him off the ball. Great line for his try. One turnover against him but I blame the other forwards for the not keeping up with him.

    Stepped up very well to the international level. Barclay and Warburton were very impressed and they know a thing or two about back row play. He was under 20s captain and I could see him as a future Scotland captain if he keeps this up.

  28. Just read the official stats, some interesting reading in there. Of course the most important one is the final score, however, the ones that stand out to me are as follows:

    Possession Scotland 59% France 41%. Its like France just said you have the ball cause we know if you have it youre not coming though us and eventually we’ll turn it over and score on counter attack. That must be one of our highest possession stats ever against France and frustratingly we were blown away on the scoreboard.

    Bad Passes Scotland 18, France 7. When did we become so bad at passing? We did do a lot more passing though, that was 187 -97. Handling errors Scotland 22, France 10. France were right to give us the ball and wait for mistakes under pressure. Glad it wasnt raining if we are fumbling dry ball.

    Attempted tackles 78 with 18 missed versus 177 with 24 missed. Thats a lot of missed tackles from both sides. You have to say if France missed 24 then their second line of defence was much better than ours. But that is Scotland’s worst tackle completion rate for a while. It was 94% completed against England, 93% against Wales and 77% today. I think we missed our stat boys a little when it came to tackling but France shredded our defence in a way we havent seen for a while and always seemed to find the space where we had the heavies defending the wing. Lots for Tandy to work on because France worked out if you break our first line of defence then we are struggling.

    1. On the missed tackles the forwards were generally good. The worst offenders were Hogg and Graham on 4 misses each and Price with 3.

      I think France targetted both wings and maybe we were unlucky that we coughed up ball in the wide channels. With hindsight we could have put in a bigger defender like Steyn for Graham but he was undroppable after his last 2 games.

      Who knows what Toony will do for the last 2 games but both Italy and Ireland will have taken notes from today on how to get round Scotland.

  29. Just watched the game; my tuppence worth…

    Darge – awesome. Hogg – poor, he’s too mentally weak, the whole squad is mentally weak. I thought we were looking good for a while in the first half, meeting the French fire with fire, ferocious in attack and defence. The butchered try was a turning point, Hogg should catch that all day but it’s not all his fault, poor pass by Harris both in thinking and execution, 4:1 overlap, no need for a miracle pass. Russell – poor, poor for the last two games. Ref was pish, odd decisions both ways, not sure who got it better, no consistency. That all said, France were awesome and we were well beaten by a better team but still the usual complement of stupid mistakes that make it easier for the opposition. Final thought, Wales are mince and we really should have won that game last weekend, that’s annoying me more than todays game to be honest.

    1. France were incredible and barring a bad day , were always going to win. The problem , is the way we lose.

      I am with Neil, rest the big wigs for the Italy game and lets see what the others can do. Perhaps a phone call to Adam Hastings !

  30. With the best players available Scotland can win about 60% of games, even occasionally against the top 5. Without our best players we are about the 8th to 10th best team. There were players playing yesterday that are good at a level but are never international rugby players. For years we have rewarded failure and mediocrity. Our forwards will seldom win a battle against another team unless far lower down the rankings and at the last WC even that wasn’t true. When our best players are out of form the task becomes far harder. Townsend is not improving this squad, when it matters they lose. The WC was an utter embarrassment. As for FR, drop him or come up with a game plan to which he sticks, he has to earn the right to try the flash stuff. It comes off about one in 20 times anyway. Hogg is a busted flush, hitch kick, attempt to beat 3 men, stopped at first line of defence, repeat. His influence is minimal. We aren’t catching up with the likes of France or Ireland and in most years we should and do lose to England. A small playing pool with too many mediocre players given pro-contracts and supplemented by some very good SA,s and some very average ones. I’m not a fan of GT and if he had any class he would resign but at the top level of coaching, the very top level, who would want the job? Lastly stop telling the world how great we are and what we are going to do, its embarrassing and never actually happens.

    1. Agreed!
      I also, cringe every time I have to read Hogg pre match comments and statements. They are horrific going into an important match. He could easily say far more toned down comments like other more successful test captains. He just is not a captain. We have better options. Like Finn I’m not even sure he’d be in my 15 at the moment. Neither are adding much to the team.

  31. Do Scotland fans think of themselves as part of the team?
    Yes….. part of the team.

    Ask yourself if you’d say some of this cr#p about ‘clownsend’ (best record of any Scottish coach) or Hogg (6N player of the year, Lion, one of the best fullbacks in the world) if you were in the team.

    1. What has Townsend achieved? An utterly disastrous WC. Not close to winning the 6N. No discernible style of play. No consistency. Hogg was and occasionally can be a great player. He is seldom so. Blind faith in past glories is no plan for progression. Simple question, are Scotland catching up France and Ireland? Are we widening the pool of international class players not just players who can play international rugby?

      1. It’s a smaller game in Scotland than in Ireland and France have 65m people.
        20 years of whining and bitching has so far failed to grow the game or win us a championship.

      2. It’s dispiriting and I’m sure it’s part of the reason Scotland players haven’t gone on lions tours (even if it’s unspoken).

        If you were one of various Lions coaches who havent picked many Scots one thing you might consider is the culture the players come from and whether they’re going to bring those psychological hangups to the camp?

        Matt Williams actually called something right about our rugby culture. His mistake was to attribute it to the players.

        It’s not the players, it’s quite a large minority of the fans. They’re just nuts!

      3. Most people are criticizing the coach rather than the players (other than the coach himself of course who does do this publicly). That criticism, and call for a change, is based on the decisions that can been and after more than one cycle.

  32. With all respect what’s your solution? The fans are more positive? Well there you have it, poor players fixed. Some of the players and GT keep telling us what they are going to achieve, and they don’t deliver. So the supporters are supposed to say there there have another biscuit. Many of the players are very lucky to be paid to play rugby. We have and always have had too many mediocre players in professional rugby. There are some players yesterday who are as much international players as my mother in her slippers.

    1. For 20 years it been the same old cr#p – we win a game against the odds, fans and some pundits hype expectation, we lose to someone who’s a peer (eg Wales 2 weeks ago) and instead of saying ‘better luck next time, it can happen, Wales at home are tough, keep going’ we demand the coach is sacked, the players are sacked, the team is cr#p.

      You see players, some of whom weren’t brought up in our culture (van der merwe etc) literally crushed by this.

      Players who top every stat and play for some of the best teams in the URC shrink in the Scotland jersey.

      Contrast with Wales who always play above themselves.

      Just think for a moment what you might say to Hogg etc if you were his teammate on the pitch with him and post that instead of the usual calls to trawl through the entire (small) rugby playing population of Scotland until we’re fielding a team of U10s and their volunteer coach? Maybe?

      1. I’ve really no idea what you talking about. The fans are to blame seems to be the point. They aren’t. The coaches and players are. Crushed by this? What evidence do you have to support this? The best teams in the URC, seriously it’s a third rate competition, the quality is atrocious. I get to watch games from all over the world where I live and the URC is the weakest competition and the Scottish teams still can’t win that or the previous incarnation regularly. Too much dross on pro contracts and given representative honours to easily. Most achieve nothing of note in their careers in Scotland. None of that is the fans issue or as a result of fan created culture. It’s as a result of poor coaching and poor players. Lastly Id say to Hogg your leadership is poor, any chance you can try something different in attack the last time you outran the defence you didn’t have tattoos

      2. There you go mrbojangles-
        Having a little dig at Hogg cos he’s got some tattoos is exactly the kind of bs I’m talking about.

        In the next post you’ll demand that he runs his backside off and gets his head kicked in so that you can go to the pub and gloat on a Saturday night on pain of being dropped and publicly humiliated!

        Try to imagine how corrosive that attitude would be if it was coming from within the team then tell me why it’s less damaging coming from fans?

        There seems to be an attitude that playing for Scotland is an unearned privilege and if they don’t win it’s our right to trash them.

        These guys play for Scotland because they’re the best players we have!

        The least we can do is get behind them and try to pick them up after what must be a pretty disappointing couple of results?

      3. I don’t drink alcohol or go to pubs. You haven’t answered a single question apart from nonsensical ramblings about people getting their head kicked in and somehow Scottish rugby culture is created by the fans and they are the reason the team isn’t very good. A typical apologist for failure and mediocrity. As an aside are you telling me Z Fagerson is one of the best props available to Scotland, how he is paid to play the sport is astonishing never mind go on a Lions tour, Oli Kebble lord give me strength, international rugby player, laughable.

      4. Ok then go and find this missing RWC winning calibre team and a new coach that we’re not selecting.

        Oh, you can’t?
        Thought not.

        There’s so much garbage on here it’s untrue.

        We’re a small rugby nation we’ve got to lift our players not drag them down because they had a mobile phone on the pitch or they’ve got some tattoos.

        It’s weird. As if some of us are jealous of our players, think they don’t really deserve to don the Jersey so we have every right to trash them when they don’t win.

      5. Id take any of Danny Wilson, Steve Tandy or Dan MacFarland.

        Though if we could afford him someone like Mike Prendergast combined with Steve Tandy could be quite a combo…

        Ronan O Gara could consider head coach for a national team role (probably too expensive)…

      6. Johnny B : Your comment is largely non sensical: Quote, ‘We’re a small rugby nation we’ve got to lift our players not drag them down’. I agree with you , there is no benefit in dragging them down, but completely disagree with your accusation.

        It is not our job to lift players up and drag them down. Not our job at all, someone is paid, paid to get the best out of his players.

        You are barking up the wrong tree.

        I do not think Adam Hastings ( who is IMO playing well ATM) will agree it was fans who are dragging him down ?

      7. Johnny B: Quote’Players who top every stat and play for some of the best teams in the URC shrink in the Scotland jersey.’ I wonder why ?

        Do you think the Welsh are any different to us ?

  33. I suspect there will not be many changes for the Italy game. Toonie will back into his shell and go defense first and foremost. Forwards will get into an arm wrestle and be out fought by the Italian forwards. We have seen this before. One question I have is: Are our players cleaver enough to change their tactics or allowed too? They seem to either play open rugby straight away or when not on or get into an arm wrestle. There doesn’t seem to be a coordinated build up. Just watch Ireland and France – cleaver boxing as they say

    1. ‘Toony will go back into his shell’.
      No I think Toony will take a look at what needs to be done on the coaching and selection side and do his best to make it happen.

      I don’t know what that’s going to be but my own feeling is it won’t be wholesale changes – maybe a couple of players in form to up the confidence, which is probably dented.

  34. I think the negativity arises from the disappointment/realisation that we cant seem to move on from 4th or 5th place in the 6 nations. In fact it is unlikely we will even achieve the 3 wins which at least maintains the status quo, so could argue we are going backwards.
    Dont think there are any easy answers/solutions to be honest

    1. The negativity has been there for as long as I can remember.
      It doesn’t help.
      To win a championship our players would have to play above themselves, as Wales do.

      Not gonna happen if they’re crushed by the weight of ridiculous expectation and harsh excessive criticism.

      1. I don’t understand the ‘ playing above ourselves’ train of thought.
        Surely whatever the highest level you can play to IS your level…and anything below that is underachieving.

  35. Should have been a closer score than it was. The referee was diabolical, and the French should have had several cards, but even without the ref’s incompetence, I think France would still have won. Scotland were simply not good enough; poor execution and too many key players going AWOL (e.g. Hogg, Russell) once again, and they just seem to lack the fighting spirit that say the Welsh have. Some of the French tries looked pretty soft too. On the positive side, Darge was great and Bennet looked good when he came on. Scotland will most likely finish 5th now. They have a chance of 4th, but for that they will need to beat Italy well and not get too much of a hammering in Dublin, plus Wales would have to lose to France.

    1. Referee cost us 10 points. As did Hoggy. We would have lost anyway because we blow the big moments. How you coach that out?

  36. The referee yesterday was (a) apparently not capable of logical judgement and (b) not managed. Full back is not a captain’s position – too far from ref to influence. How does Townsend not get that? But yesterday, once again, the main crumbling point was the ineffectiveness of Russell. Talismanic? Not with a complacency that infects those around him. A player of exaggerated reputation, accident prone, the most carded in 6N. Russell needs to be relieved of either his phone or his jersey. Townsend has been privileged with discoveries like Darcy Graham, but he persists in not properly developing next generation players like Redpath (22), Darge (22) and Hastings (25) in time to save blushes at next RWC. As to The Kinghorn Experiment can anyone explain this pure schlock horror sci-fi thinking?

    1. Also the refbot seemed incapable of seeing Cameron Woki … unless he was lifted up… strange magic indeed.

  37. France played well ..they deserved to win.
    However they are being over blown to being rugby messiahs. The period just before ‘the Hogg drop’ we were putting a lot of pressure on them , they were on the back foot and about to capitulate just like France do consistently… we simply let them off..we lost our focus and discipline.. lost soft tries and there went the confidence.
    Those moments change everything at the top level.. clinical finishing when you have momentum is everything.
    A great captain would have got the team to refocus and dig in even harder… but Hogg just falls apart ..and so therefore the team follows suit. It’s not even my hindsight …at the moment Harris sent the ball to Hogg I thought ..oh no! Here we go .. ball drop..he does many good things..but he lacks composure not effort…Russell on the other hand can be composed but often when it really matters is not…and more infuriatingly lately seems to not give a monkeys.

      1. That’s an easy one! And almost too many to mention.
        Almost every 6N of recent memory…
        When we last beat them … we should have lost but France managed to inexplicably panic at the end to basically hand the match to us.
        Their last match at home ….after outplaying Ireland for a large chunk …lost their focus weirdly started playing a way that suited Ireland and very nearly lost the match in the end…if it had been in Ireland they probably would have lost it.

  38. If we can be compared to Wales I see one big difference.

    Both teams lose when they try to play outside their skillset, as does pretty much everyone else.

    Wales response generally is to retreat into their skillset and trust it to deliver…our response is to go even further outside our skill set in the hope of a miracle…at this point my non Scots wife starts making unicorn jokes and the weekend is ruined.

    The difference is self belief and confidence that if you do what you can do and do it well it is sufficient. This is Gatland/AWJ legacy with Wales…we don’t have that, somehow Nick Tompkins does.

    I think we need a new coach & captain by RWC23 not because Toony and Hogg have let us down, but because they have the wrong mindset for the task ahead, which is building consistency at the top level.

    We need a “boring” no mistakes coach, we need a less emotional captain – a forward ideally, and we need Hastings &/or Thompson in the squad to keep Finn from getting complacent.

    1. Agreed!
      We have talent but lack structure.
      We need a balanced yet driven captain.
      I am wondering if Tandy should be next man up as HC. GT is just as inconsistent an head coach as he was a player.
      This is just not going to end well with GT.

    2. Also, the Wales match was extremely telling.
      We ground out a win v England .. which was a good platform to move forward. We then went to play a gritty well structured side with arguably less talent and managed to play with no purpose structure or intent and lose.
      Confidence comes from winning not always fanciful rugby. We lost the confidence we gained from our opening win…and so went to play the form 6N side lacking belief.
      We’ll never have the needed confidence to actually win silverware and titles with out doing the hard yards and winning a significant sequence no matter how pretty the rugby is.
      We can do it…. We just are not doing it…imo

  39. I think rugby has a problem with the jacklers ,or as I call them , spoiler’s.Seems to me if you have the ball and try to put it back after a tackle you can be pinged for holding on or not releasing.But the jacklers can hold on or not release with no intention of playing the ball and get a penalty awarded to them.How often in yesterday’s two games did the person in the jackle position have their hands on the ball or pin the players arms for a fraction of a second with no control but be awarded a pen.
    IMO it’s killing the speed and tempo of games and discouraging players from creativity ,which we all want to see ,in case they get isolated
    Interested in others opinions on this

    1. I think you have a really good point. Line breaks are what gets you up off your seat and the way the laws are being applied is ensuring that we see less and less of them.

      Also, I don’t have any evidence for it but I have a suspicion that the jackling position ,and the imminent collisions that it solicits, endangares player safety at various levels of the game.

  40. As an aside, Italy penalised for sending off of replacement hooker – down to 13 for forcing uncontested scrums: World Rugby laws mean Italy have to bring on another front-rower for a back and also take off another player for forcing uncontested scrums

    This is a joke!!!!!

    1. Total joke – Ruined the game for everyone in the stadium. At least if you’re watching on TV you can turn it off. Referees need to work a lot harder at trying to find extenuating circumstances before giving red cards (only talking here about against Scots, Italians or anyone playing Wales because they do seem to look for these things or not even consider cards if they’re wearing other shirts). This wasn’t a red card tackle, the Irish boy dropped into it. Nobody would have wanted to see Italy go down to 13.

  41. France deserved their win yeserday – fast skillful rugby; forwards running and handling like backs; good game awareness and constant supporting efforts all round. Scotland played much better than in their previous two games but lacked creativity and could not cope with the relentless French pressure.

    Having said that, I though the officials were abysmal: high tackle on the tryline;
    off-feet collision with head contact; player interfering with play while lying on the wrong side; deliberate holding up of a player in the lineout: none of which were sanctioned. Inconsistency in refereeing is a blight on the game. But in mitigation, World Rugby have got their head up their bum with their refusal to sort out the problems of continual scrum resets and the even more shambolic breakdown shenanigans which are treated with no consistency from match to match.

    Changes for Scotland – choose a new captain; someone closer to the action. Hogg needs to concentrate on his game and nothing else. Finn needs a minder who acts as a second distributor.

  42. Anyone think Finn Russell is nowhere near the fitness levels for test rugby. Pace also seems lacking. Think he needs a bit of a wake up call of what’s expected for an international athlete no matter how naturally gifted you are

    1. It’s not fitness of body that’s lacking – one assumes Racing 92 control that – it’s fitness of mind. and attitude. Who on earth takes their phone on to the pitch during the warm-up for their country, as shown to the world on TV? He acts – and is allowed to act by management – like a superstar prima donna, yet typically underperforms.

    2. Shane Horgan described Russell’s workrate as pathetic on Virgin Media TV and I agree with him (for once). He contrasted Russell’s effort with Darge who was “killing himself”. Russell needs some sort of boot up the backside or to be dropped.

      1. Drop him, only way. If you give him a rocket the toys will be completely out the pram and he wouldn’t give a s**t or even less than he does at the moment

    3. The footage shown of Russell just lightly jogging around not getting involved whilst all other teammates were busting a gut to defend I thought was pretty damning.
      I’d be telling him he is disrespecting all ..drop him out the squad… and tell him to come back when he is ready to be a proper team mate and represent his country with pride. He’s like a spoiled kid.

      1. Rocks up fat. Drinks as many beers as he wants. Listens to tunes on his phone during warm up. Grins when carded. Can’t be arsed to get back and defend.

      2. Starting to wonder if we would be more likely to achieve success without him… Hastings and Thompson seem more rounded players than him anyway. Needs dropped I think… can’t be good for team morale watching him swan around like he is queen bee and not put the effort into the shirt.

      3. Aye. That’s the brush. Needs one up him and away. Footage of him was a disgrace to his country. Lazy wee man. No pride. Get on your phone, Finn, and keep in touch with your agent. No one here wants you any more.

  43. After 3 rounds , some hopefully “sober” reflection – Scotland , Wales & England , it’s a game of rock paper scisssors , we each win and lose one – so how we deal with the grown ups and Italy determines slots
    3,4& 5 .
    A lot of folks getting their pants in a fankle – my thoughts on the ref etc are above , not going back into it – We need to regroup pick our BEST for Italy , and prepare to give Ireland a shock , aiming for 3rd …

  44. Several of the Scottish players are not fit enough and have not got the mind set, resilience and intensity .This is particularly noticeable when the team does not have the ball . Backs are seen walking back as the opposition cross the line. One
    French player runs almost the width of the pitch without being touched by a Scottish player, to touch down within arms reach of Several Scottish defenders. The handling skills of several of the players is sub standard. The number of passes executed by some our front row players in a match is often zero.

  45. Drop Hogg and Russell to the bench for Italy. There you go. Bit sick and tired of the “I can’t be bothered and “I try too hard” show.

  46. Just hoping Italy are down to 13 when Scotland play them in 2 weeks time. Even then still worried!

  47. Two points.
    Am I right in remembering a lot of chat on this site prior to the Lions tour that Scots players return poorer performers ?
    Did I see Townsend blaming the players for not executing the plan ? From what I saw “ the plan “ in the second half was to play across the pitch, in our own half , until we lost the ball.

    1. A bad tradesman blames his tools. If Townsend doesn’t go then Scotland’s international rugby is over . I’ve said it from the start , Townsend is a real life lover, but he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth . Scottish rugby is built on snobbery.

    2. We had 8 lions in 83 and won a grand slam in 84 , and 9 on the 89 tour ahead of a slam in 90 , I don’t see having lots of lions as a negative – different in the professional era and time off needing to be managed – but playing at a higher level , makes better players.

  48. Almost doesn’t matter whose fault it was that the try scoring chance was butchered at the end of the first half. It was butchered and it was a game changer. Coming back from a pretty chaotic 3-12 down to 10-12, there were real signs that we’d got the initiative back and that France had started to become a bit flustered and chaotic themselves. Going in halftime 15/17 – 12 up would have been a major lift for Scotland.

    Russell was quiet throughout to the point of almost uninterested.

    How many times do we go through four or more phases and then cough it up or concede a penalty? Really frustrating.

    How could that (excellent) France centre glide across the pitch and score like it was an Under 12s game?

    6N so far, Scotland, Wales and England are about as good, or as bad, as each other.

    France and Ireland a level above that three.

    1. Of course it matters who’s fault it was Johnmac. If Townsend is blaming his Team then psychologically that Townsend is not a part of that team. The Lions coaches had a good laugh at Townsend, who else would have demanded that Chris Harris comes on tour with the Lions, Harris is not worthy of a Scotland shirt. Scottish rugby is giving jobs to the boys, Townsend is supposedly Scottish ( though I wouldn’t want him covering me ) Townsend shows no emotion and I find that disturbing, when the majestic big Vern shed a tear for the boy’s that he loved.

    2. All fair JohnMc.

      On your question on the Fickou try – it’s a good one. Looking back at it – first up, Harris looks effed. He’s hobbling, and he didn’t come back after halftime. Because of that, Darcy is questioning whether Harris can get to Ntamack, so he bites in. Ntamack throws the long pass and everybody panics, all our backs baring down on Moefana. So our whole back three and Tuipolotu are tied into the ruck, Harris can barely run, so it’s Finn who’s running back across to cover Fickou. Skinner reads it and hurls himself at Ntamack to stop it at source, but can’t quite get there.

      After that it’s a footrace between Fickou, Russell and Haining. Only one winner. Price then misses a one-on-one tackle, which is frustrating but happens to the best of us.

      So there are a lot of question marks – should Harris have been taken off earlier? Why did the backline panic, to the point where they’re all going for the same tackle? – but you do have to give France credit too. It vaguely reminds me of our penalty try against England – two phases, dragging the defence one way and then the other, leaving the wrong players in the wrong places.

    1. Oli Smith – Darcy Graham – Mark Bennett – Sione Tuipolotu – Duhan Van Der Merwe – Adam Hastings – Ali Price – Matt Fagerson – Rory Darge (Captain) – Hamish Watson – Grant Gilchrist – Scott Cummings – Zander Fagerson – Stuart McInally – Pierre Schoeman

      Stuart Hogg – Finn Russell – Ben Vellacott – Magnus Bradbury – Sam Skinner – Simon Berghan – George Turner – Oli Kebble

      Oli Smith has been outstanding in URC (similar to Darge imo recently), and it’s a position we NEED to develop depth in.

      What would be interesting to see is if the combination of Bennett/Tuipolotu is defensively solid while injecting a spark into our attack.

  49. Here we go – wobbles incoming… worried about the Italy game…

    Seems we’ve got the pitchforks out for Hogg and Russell.

    Hogg dropped a pass and Russell’s workrate wasn’t where it could be.. but overall those 2 are well in credit over multiple seasons so let hope they get over their disappointment and get back to form.

    I’m sure they will!

    1. Wow, just watched that footage.Cannot believe what I watched. I hope Russell is asked to explain himself in front of his teammates at the debriefing then slinks out feeling thoroughly ashamed.A full house at murryfield ,7 minutes in and he can’t raise himself above a jog to help his teammates. He should be embarrassed but probably thinks that’s not his job, he’s just there to show how good he is with ball in hand. Pathetic

      1. I think the paying public should carry him head high and oil his naked body. He should then be installed as fly-half for life and no questions relating to his performance should be tolerated.

  50. As an aside, Rugby Pass has an article on the tackle during Ireland v Italy game resulting in the Italian red card. Seems there was a similar one by Ireland later on that resulted in …… nothing done or discussed by match officials. Double standards they claim

    1. The crazy thing is that I think since the introduction of VAR the inequitable treatment of Scotland and Italy in the Six Nations has got worse. How many times have their players got carded because a video ref called attention to something he spotted. How many times have the same video refs not spotted the same offences from the other nations against them? I’d also be interested to see the % of times when the ref has looked at what was presented and chosen the strictest action for a Scot or Italian, and the amount of times they’ve chosen the more lenient option for the others. I’m sure the numbers would tell their own story.

      1. I said it higher up in the thread, we get reffed according to the preconceptions of whatever official. If they are predisposed to thin we are sh*t and will cheat to stay in the game then we get officiated accordingly. Same goes for Italy , no breaks for us.

  51. Does anyone know a Hooker with an Italian Nonna. We might not get a game in two weeks unless they can find one.

  52. Just watched the Hogg ‘drop’ for first time …. he should have caught it! It wasn’t a difficult catch and he wasn’t necessarily over-stretching to catch it. Just a p**s poor Hogg play that he seems to do at times (e.g. Ireland game dropped ball)

  53. Also, if you watch build up of first French try, Finn booted ball down field but if he did a chip over the rushing French defense then good possibility that Darcy and Finn would have been first to the ball. Small margins …..

    1. Some good analysis on this if you watch Squidge Rugby’s review of the game on YouTube. On another day that would have been a few metres shorter and sat up for Graham to run under the posts.

      The analysis also points out how little Scotland kicked during the game. In our most successful games we kick 13% of possession but on Saturday it was 3%. That must have been the plan as Russell, Hogg and Price all kicked much less than usual. Turns out it wasn’t a great plan.

      1. And when they did kick, they didn’t do it well. For example, Hogg kicked downfield and the French player returned the kick with a 50:22. The second match in a row that happened.

  54. takes me a few days after defeat before I can bear watching highlights – there were some feeble tries conceded however rose-tinted your glasses are

  55. In the cold light of day ultimately well beaten, (there’s always a but when discussing scottish rugby) BUT why run so much when kicking worked so well when we won in Paris, we opted to run straight at a huge park rather than make them do what they didn’t want to (scramble back). The missed opportunities are still raw, need more good ball players. Away to catch the sunrise on the Northumbrian coast

  56. The pod have gone after Russell and Hogg again. I have been critical of Hogg in the past. I do believe there is some justification. However I was watching off the ball on YouTube and they were asking ROG how he rated the 10’s in the 6N. The piece was obviously set up to facilitate the Irish’s favourite past time of slagging a Scot but instead ROG just outlined how the timeline of Russell’s week would have gone from playing a tough top 14 game late on Sunday night to playing a test match the next week and basically just saying it’s simply not a level playing field. The faces of the presenter’s is quite amusing it clearly wasn’t how they were expecting this segment of the show to go.

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